Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Manaslu Part 26

We gradually stocked Camp 1 – carrying loads of food and fuel and then retreating back to basecamp. This allowed us a gradual transition from being trekkers to becoming mountaineers; each of us finding our own rhythm and pace. Finally came the night to sleep at our new high point. Brian, Tom, Dan, Jerome and myself all made the trip to Camp 1. My stomach had been rumbling and grumbling for about a week and just after rolling out my sleeping bag at Camp 1 the eruption occurred. This was far and away the worst GI distress I’d ever experienced. No question, I had to get down to basecamp, and fortunately Brian agreed to accompany me. When you’re deep into something as intense as a Himalayan m mountaineering expedition it’s easy to over dramatize singular events. As Brian and I were descending the lower glacier I could only think that my chances of a summit were now next to none. I figured that retreating back to basecamp would put me behind the acclimatization schedule and that I’d still be adjusting to the altitude when everyone else on the team would be pushing to for the top. I thought my ship had sunk. Back at basecamp Brian and I walked over to the Australian camp and asked Dr. Andrew Peacock for his advice. He said that I had most likely contracted Guardia on the trek in and recommended a course of the antibiotic Flagyl. The results were almost immediate and the next morning I was weak, but at least I wasn’t living in our makeshift latrine. Brian took off early bound for Camp 1 while I stayed in basecamp. One the second day in basecamp I was able to hold down some food and so I spent as much time as possible in the cook tent eating and hydrating. I knew that I had to get back on the acclimatization track and decided to depart to Camp 1 the next morning; Khan Cha, was also in basecamp, agreed to go with me. The next morning Khan Cha and I departed basecamp while Jerome, Dan, and Tom began their descent from Camp 1. There had been significant snow over night and so I decided to try out my snowshoes. I’ve always said that the only thing worse than bringing snowshoes and not using them is bringing snowshoes and using them. I have to admit to eating some of my words there as I made quick time up the glacier while Khan Cha postholed slowly behind me. In all fairness I had offered him Brian’s snowshoes, which he had refused. I took off the snowshoes at the base of the steep climb leading to Camp 1 and starting kicking steps up the new snow. Soon Khan Cha was passing me, I think he wanted to prove his value: he didn’t follow steps he made steps. We were about halfway up the steep section, I was following Khan Cha, when here comes the Pakistani climber who was on the payroll of the German group. He sailed past the both of us and pushed on over the lip and into Camp 1. Brian was outside the tent brewing up hot tea and handed mugs to each of us as we entered camp. You see this is what makes Brian so special: his concern for the welfare of others endeared him to not only our hired guns, but also to the hired guns of other teams. That Pakistani guy was far and away the strongest man on the mountain and I can say for certain that he would have risked his neck to save Brian. It’s good to have friends in high places.

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